Liberal Dark Money Behemoth Seeks to Scrub Wikipedia Page of Free Beacon Reporting

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June 12, 2020

A powerful liberal network is seeking to scrub its Wikipedia page of unfavorable reporting on its financial activity by the Washington Free Beacon.

Arabella Advisors, a hub for dozens of liberal groups and causes, has hired a public relations specialist to expunge citations from its Wikipedia page, according to a report by the Daily Beast. The firm suggested edits to the Arabella Advisors Wikipedia entry on June 1, saying that reports about Arabella Advisors's attempts to shield financial information from the public are unreliable and should be removed.

The public relations specialist, Mary Gaulke, suggested the edits but said she would not edit the article directly, citing conflict of interest concerns. Gaulke also suggested that the Free Beacon should only be considered a reliable source when cited as opinion.

Arabella Advisors sought to have Wikipedia delete portions of the page that cited a 2019 Free Beacoreport detailing how the group funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to liberal initiatives. It also asked for a sentence citing the Center for Responsive Politics, a research database on money in politics, to be removed.

A Wikipedia editor rejected the suggested edits, citing Arabella's considerable influence as a chief concern.

"I appreciate the COI [conflict of interest] disclosure. I don't feel comfortable acting on these requests, though. The fact that this page was created less than a month ago and Arabella has already retained a paid editor is not, to me, a good sign," Wikipedia user Marquardtika said. "As we can see from the article, Arabella has a massive amount of money and exerts tremendous influence across a wide range of channels. Its Wikipedia page should not be one of those channels."

Marquardtika said that to accept Gaulke's attempt to influence the webpage would undermine Wikipedia's impartiality.

"What chance does the layman have at crafting a truly impartial encyclopedic article if volunteer editors here are asked to do the bidding of a paid editor on behalf of a gigantic and powerful company? It is truly David vs. Goliath," Marquardtika said.

UPDATE June 13, 9:30 a.m.: This report has been updated to reflect the fact that Arabella Advisers hired a freelance public relations specialist, not the public relations firm Porter Novelli.